From Scratch to Result: Building Codes reduce GHG Emission
Building codes have a long history. It is believed that the first building code was the Code of Hammurabi, the king of Babylon (18th century BC). As generally accepted, a building code is a set of rules that specify the minimum acceptable level of safety for constructed objects such as buildings and non-building structures. The main purpose of building codes is to protect public health, safety and general welfare as they relate to the construction and occupancy of buildings and structures.
The practice of developing, approving, and enforcing building codes varies considerably among nations. In some countries, where the power of regulating construction and fire safety is vested in local authorities, a system of model building codes is used. Model building codes have no legal status unless adopted or adapted by an authority having jurisdiction. In other countries, Uzbekistan is among those, building codes are developed by the government agencies and then enforced across the country by the central government. Such codes are known as the national building codes in a sense they enjoy a mandatory nation-wide application.
Era of globalization boomed industrial development and boosted prices for energy sources, urging many countries to become more energy efficient, including the construction sector. Construction in Uzbekistan has also been based on the old building codes designed during the Soviet era, which are outdated in regard to existing modern construction technologies and energy efficient materials. Hence the vast majority of buildings to date, including of public purpose, can be considered as non-energy efficient, leading to excessive energy consumption and making major contribution to greenhouse gas emissions in the country.
The joint project of UNDP/GEF on Promoting Energy Efficiency in Public Buildings works on revising existing building codes in order to introduce energy efficiency techniques as one of its main objectives.
The project has conducted a complex activity in this direction, starting from selection and revision of 7 building codes to close cooperation with local design institutions and certification centers bringing in the world best practices and know-how in designing energy efficient building codes. Selected building codes are directly related to construction of public buildings – rural health clinics and schools, which create public health, safety and welfare hence improve the living conditions of people. Experts of leading design centers “ToshUyJoyLITI” and “UzTibLoyiha” improved their knowledge and strengthened capacity during the revision of building codes on “Hospitals and Medical Facilities”, “Public Buildings and Facilities”, “Administrative Buildings”, “Thermal Building Engineering”, “Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning”, “Requirements for Energy Consumption for Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning of Buildings and Structures”, and “Roofs”.
“Revised building codes will result in improving energy efficiency of public buildings to be retrofitted and newly constructed for at least 25%”, - explains Ms. Tatyana Zimakova to a new colleague at the “ToshUyJoyLITI” design institution.
For reference, average heat energy consumption in buildings of Uzbekistan is 185 KWh per square meter annually. If reduced for 25%, the average annual consumption of energy will be reduced to 140 KWh per square meter, or for 45 KWh per square meter, which is about 5 cubic meters of natural gas per sq.m. For a rural school of 1000 square meters, this reduction would result in saving 5000 cubic meters of natural gas consumption annually.
However, one of the ultimate goals of the project is to reduce green house gas emission which adversely affects global climate. Knowing the fact that emission of CO2 for 1 cubic meter of natural gas is roughly equals to 2 kg, our school would contribute for 10 000 kg of CO2 in reduction of GHG emission annually - a great example of result from scratch!